Congressman Smith Presents Bronze Medal to Vet 45 Years after Vietnam War Combat Action

cong smith tlsU.S. Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) presented a long-overdue Bronze Medal to Richard A. Walker, Jr. of Neptune City, nearly 45 years after he was supposed to get it for combat action in Vietnam.

Smith additionally presented Mr. Walker with: the Army Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal; the National Defense Service Medal; the Vietnam Service Medal & Bronze Star Attachment; the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, and; the Sharpshooter Badge & Rifle Bar.

“During my tour of duty in Vietnam, in which I was proud to serve my country, I was awarded the Bronze Star and other medals,” said Mr. Walker in a request to Congressman Smith for assistance. “In 1969-1970 it was better to be obscure than chastised. Recently my son, a police officer in Ocean Township, found some of my pictures I had of my Vietnam unit and asked for them [the medals] to hang in his office. I would like to give him my medals but don’t have them. I never received them. My attempts to get them have been in vain. Any help in procuring them would be greatly appreciated.

“I wish I could share it with the ones who didn’t come back,” Walker said of his fallen comrades-in-arms when was presented with the medal Friday. “A lot of lost souls there. I’ll accept this for them.”

Mr. Walker, a native of Point Pleasant, Ocean County, N.J., served in the United States Army in Vietnam from Dec. 6, 1969 until 44 years ago today, to Nov. 10, 1970. He quit high school and volunteered in 1966, leaving as a sergeant. He was eligible for the Bronze Star for a special operation close to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) about which he was given few details.

Smith sent a letter to the National Archives’ National Person Records Center requesting the medals be issued. The Army approved the request and Smith received the medals on Oct. 27, and presented them before Walker’s son, Ocean Township Patrolman Steven Walker; a family friend, Officer Chris Stenger, an ex-Marine and combat veteran of Afghanistan, and; several reporters on Nov. 7 at Smith’s Freehold Office.

“This was a slip up that needed to be made right,” said Smith, who was the chairman of the Veterans Committee in the House of Representatives for four years. “The Bronze Star and the other medals are an important part of the Walker family history. I am glad his son prompted Mr. Walker to seek them, because he served his country honorably. The medals are long overdue.”


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